Welcome back to the North American League Championship Series (LCS) everyone! It seems like it’s been a while since the LCS Representatives let us down. For the next nine months, this is North America’s year to win the World Championship.
Summer Finals Revenge
The start of LCS means one thing for many fans, the return of powerhouse Cloud9, who aim to pick up from last season. Cloud9 looks to avenge their Summer Split Finals loss at the hands of Team Liquid to begin the season.
Team Liquid (TL) used all three of their first round bans to shut down Yasin “Nisqy” Dincer, Cloud9’s starting Midlaner. This allowed Aatrox to slip through to Eric “Licorice” Ritchie, Cloud9’s rock in the Top Lane. Cloud9 finished off their picks with Robert “Blabber” Huang roaming the Jungle with Lee Sin and Nisqy on Veigar. Cloud9’s new bottom lane carry, Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen entered the game on Aphelios, the newest champion in League of Legends. Phillipe “Vulcan” Laflamme unbenched the Tahm Kench for his debut as Cloud9’s Support player.
Match of the Split (So far)
TL move into the game with Jung “Impact” Eon-Yeong on Mordekaiser in the Top Lane, substitute Jungler Shern “Shernfire” Tai on Jarvan IV and Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen on Azir. Bottom Lane showcased Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng on Senna and Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in on Thresh. Shernfire subbed in for Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen for TL, who was unable to play due to visa issues.
Tired of the slow early game, Licorice decided to check a midlane brush for TL members. Out popped Doublelift, Shernfire and CoreJJ who in turn popped Licorice for First Blood. Cloud9 took this personally and by the 20-minute mark Cloud9 held a 2,500 gold lead and a significant 4-1 turret advantage. Cloud9 ran away with this advantage, taking a 22-minute Baron and eventually destroying the Nexus by the 26-minute mark.
Once Cloud9 lost the first teamfight and gave up first blood, they came back like a wave, taking objective after objective with relative ease. Blabber tracked Shernfire well and was able to catch Shernfire multiple times in his jungle. Cloud9 taking the Infernal Dragon paired with their heaps of Crowd Control (CC) abilities allowed them to erase each member of TL one by one.
Blabber flexing his muscle on Shernfire was not the only reason for the Cloud9 victory. Enter Nisqy. The demi-god himself was without a doubt was the reason for this victory. He used Veigar’s Event Horizon to zone and stun TL throughout the match, leading to easy advantages. Zven and Vulcan played the game relatively passively, using the attention Licorice and Nisqy received to earn gold and prepare for the mid and late game teamfights. Zven got his first, and only, kill of the game during the decisive teamfight in TL’s base.
Guardians Do Not Go Down Easy
Golden Guardians (GGS) stood in the way of a perfect Week 1 and Cloud9 came into the game as the heavy favorite.
Nisqy piloted Zoe against ex-Cloud9 Academy Midlaner Greyson “Goldenglue” Glimmer’s Diana. Zven on Aphelios and Vulcan on Nautilus lane safely against Victor “FBI” Huang’s Senna and Yuri “Keith” Jew on Tahm Kench.
In the opening minutes, GGS attempted a gank in the bottom lane and Cloud9 countered with a gank top lane almost immediately. Just as in the previous game, Licorice gave First Blood over to GGS, giving the opponent hope. Later, GGS attempted a flank in the bottom lane and Vulcan body blocked nearly all the damage, dying in the process but allowing the rest of Cloud9 to escape. Multiple Cloud9 players would have died, handed over at least one tower and sacrificed all momentum.
GGS repeatedly made small mistakes and Cloud9 made sure to punish those mistakes.. After taking a Cloud Dragon GGS moved to stop Cloud9 from taking Baron. GGS positioned just a little too close to Cloud9 and lost all 5 members leading to Cloud9 taking the Baron cleanly. Later, GGS sent two members to the bottom lane and secured the destruction of the second tower. Instead of recalling, Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell and Goldenglue went for a victory parade. Nisqy, Zven, Blabber and Vulcan spotted them on a ward, then proceeded to rain on their parade, send them to the death realm and then take Baron. This was the straw that broke the camels back and ensured a 34-minute Cloud9 victory.
Cloud9 Looks to Find Immortals’ Achilles Heel
Cloud9 looks to continue their dominance against Immortals for their first game of Week 2. Immortals returned to LCS with a 1-1 Week 1 after a two year LCS absence. Cloud9 is the better team on paper, especially with struggling rookie midlaner Jeremy “Eika” Valdenaire on Immortals. Zven and Vulcan will face a fairly weak bot lane carry in Johnny “Altec” Ru and Morgana/Thresh legend Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent. Look to see Cloud9 either pick or ban Thresh early in the pick/ban phase.
Immortals’ Jake “Xmithie” Puchero is easily a top 3 Jungler in the LCS, and will draw a few bans. This jungle matchup with Blabber should be the first real test for Blabber this season. The bottom half of the jungle will be contested by both junglers. Both Xmithie and Blabber need their bottom lanes to win their lanes.
In the top lane Licorice will try to exploit the slightly weaker Paul “sOAZ” Boyer with an aggressive pick such as Fiora or Camille. A Cloud9 victory is expected, unless Immortals gets their bottom lane ahead and Eika doesn’t get stomped. In that case Immortals could put up a significant fight.
Can 100 Thieves Steal a Game?
Cloud9’s second game of the weekend comes against 100 Thieves, another 1-1 team after the first week of games. Nisqy gets to feast on another rookie midlaner with Tommy “Ryoma” Le starting for 100 Thieves. Ryoma was camped and consistently outplayed by Evil Geniuses during Week 1 finishing the game 0-6. Nisqy will look to his Leblanc or even Qiyana, if available, with a 66% career win rate on both.
Blabber will play a big role making sure Zven and Vulcan out perform Cody “Cody Sun” Li-Yu and Support William “Stunt” Chen. Cody Sun looks to be back in his Season 8 days on Xayah. Zven will look to farm and not lose bottom lane.
Both players in the top lane, Licorice and Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, will be looking towards mid and late game. Both are strong laners but their true talent comes in the split-push and team fights.
This game will come down to who can execute team fights the best. Cloud9 won teamfights in the first week and turn those into neutral objectives; Barons, Dragons and towers taken, which allows the team march to the Nexus. Expect Cloud9 to pick early/mid game champions allowing them to win before late game.
Featured photo courtesy of @Portilho on Twitter
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